Posts Tagged ‘Mikal Watts’

Lawyers roundup

  • Feds investigating prominent Texas attorney and many-time Overlawyered mentionee Mikal Watts [MySanAntonio via PoL]
  • Florida high court: lawyers not privileged to defame parties during informal witness questioning [Delmonico v. Traynor]
  • Client’s story: not only did attorney try to kill me, he also gave me bad advice [Lowering the Bar]
  • Some lawyers for city of Cleveland seek union representation, following municipal attorneys in S.F., D.C. and Houston [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
  • Watch what you say about lawyers, part CLXXVI [NYLJ, “shakedown”]
  • Former ATLA president Barry Nace fights disciplinary proceeding in W.V. [Chamber-backed WV Record]
  • Minnesota lawyer who billed client for time he spent having sex with her won’t be allowed to practice for more than a year [TheLawNet, earlier on this candidate for “ultimate Overlawyered story”]
  • Should she take the job offer from an apparently unethical attorney? If she has to ask… [Elie Mystal, Above the Law]

November 14 roundup

Gulf spill: “I never signed up with anybody”

Campbell Robertson and John Schwartz of the New York Times find that many Vietnamese-Americans who are listed as law firm clients in the BP Transocean spill proceedings would rather not be law firm clients. “Like [Tim] Nguyen, some maintain that they never signed up with lawyers, but found that claims had been filed on their behalf (about 50 people have made formal complaints to the claims facility along these lines).” Nguyen found himself a client of lawyer Mikal Watts, “and to his further surprise, as a Louisiana shrimper rather than a Mississippi shipyard worker.” Watts, a big-league Texas tort lawyer, has reported having 43,000 spill clients, many mass-recruited from minority and poorer communities; he says he has a “signed contingency-fee contract with every client,” and that he has released clients who changed their mind about representation. “People familiar with the claims process [of one 26,000-claimant subgroup] said nearly every submission was listed as a deckhand with identical earnings.” Watts says the claims fund, administered by Kenneth Feinberg, has kept changing the documentation it asks for.

December 11 roundup

  • Nastygrams fly at Christmas time over display and festival use of “Jingle Bells”, Grinch, etc. [Elefant]
  • Claims that smoking ban led to instantaneous plunge in cardiac deaths in Scotland turns out to be as fishy as similar claims elsewhere [Siegel on tobacco via Sullum, Reason “Hit and Run”]
  • Myths about the costs and consequences of an automaker Chapter 11 filing [Andrew Grossman, Heritage; Boudreaux, WSJ] Drowning in mandates and Congress throws them an anchor [Jenkins, WSJ]
  • Mikal Watts may be the most generous of the trial lawyers bankrolling the Texas Democratic Party’s recent comeback [Texas Watchdog via Pero]
  • Disney settles ADA suit demanding Segway access at Florida theme parks “by agreeing to provide disabled guests with at least 15 newly-designed four-wheeled vehicles.” [OnPoint News, earlier]
  • Update on Scientology efforts to prevent resale of its “e-meter” devices on eBay [Coleman]
  • Scary: business-bashing lawprof Frank Pasquale wants the federal government to regulate Google’s search algorithm [Concurring Opinions, SSRN]
  • Kind of an endowment all by itself: “Princeton is providing $40 million to pay the legal fees of the Robertson family” (after charges of endowment misuse) [MindingTheCampus]

February 5 roundup

Furor over Mikal Watts “judges owe us” letter

Looks as if the legal tactics of one politically ambitious Texas plaintiff’s lawyer may have blown up in his face:

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mikal Watts of San Antonio once tried to pressure a legal opponent into a $60 million personal injury lawsuit settlement by claiming he would have an advantage on appeal because of his firm’s “heavy” campaign financial support to an appellate court’s justices, “all of whom are good Democrats.”

A “nine-page letter Watts wrote to opposing counsel in 2001 apparently was intended to make an out-of-state corporation think the donations could sway” the 13th Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi. The letter was sent to a defense lawyer representing American Electric Power in an auto-accident case. “Politely put, south Texas venue by itself makes this a very dangerous lawsuit,” Watts wrote.

What made the letter unusual was the linking of campaign contributions to sitting justices and the potential of an appeal.

The letter then noted that if the case went to appeal, it would go to the 13th Court of Appeals.

“This court is comprised of six justices, all of whom are good Democrats,” Watts wrote. “The Chief Justice, Hon. Rogelio Valdez, was recently elected with our firm’s heavy support, and is a man who believes in the sanctity of jury verdicts.”

The letter goes on to name Justices Errlinda Castillo, Nelda Rodriguez, J. Bonner Dorsey, Federico Hinojosa and Linda Yanez, and says his firm also has financially supported them. Hinojosa, Castillo and Dorsey are no longer on the court.

“Justice Bonner Dorsey, is more conservative than the others, but has been a friend of mine and the sanctity of jury verdicts for many years,” Watts wrote.

Watts and his law firm in 1999 donated $5,000 to Valdez and $2,500 to Rodriguez; in 2000, $15,000 to Hinojosa; and in January 2001, $10,000 to Castillo. The firm donated $50,000 to Yanez in 2002.

(R. G. Ratcliffe, “Senate candidate played up contributions to justices”, Houston Chronicle, Sept. 5; “Watts’ letter shows judicial reform need” (editorial), San Antonio Express-News, Sept. 15; PrairiePundit, Sept. 7 (quoting Houston Chronicle editorial that’s now offline)).

Blog reaction among both Texans and Democrats has been overwhelmingly negative. “This is bad,” writes the eponymous Kos at Daily Kos. Similarly: Burnt Orange Report, Urban Grounds, Eye on Williamson, Doing My Part for the Left, Capitol Annex. For links to some of our coverage of Watts’s colorful courtroom exploits over the years, see Jun. 9. As a matter of fact, Ted covered Watts’ eye-opening demand letter in a Point of Law post of Nov. 2, 2005.

August 27 roundup

July 31 roundup

  • Can’t possibly be true: Tampa man sentenced to 25 years for possession of pills for which he had a legal prescription [Balko, Hit and Run]

  • Plaintiff’s lawyers “viewed [Sen. Fred Thompson] as someone we could work with” and gave to his campaigns, but they can’t be pleased by his kind words for Texas malpractice-suit curbs [Washington Post, Lattman; disclaimer]

  • Pace U. student arrested on hate crime charges after desecrating Koran stolen from college [Newsday; Volokh, more; Hitchens]

  • Little-used Rhode Island law allows married person to act as spouse’s attorney, which certainly has brought complications to the divorce of Daniel and Denise Chaput from Pawtucket [Providence Journal]

  • Lott v. Levitt defamation suit kinda-sorta settles, it looks like [Adler @ Volokh]

  • Trial lawyer Mikal Watts not bowling ’em over yet in expected challenge to Texas Sen. Cornyn [Rothenberg, Roll Call, sub-only via Lopez @ NRO]

  • Frankly collusive: after Minnesota car crash, parents arrange to have their injured son sue them for negligence [OnPoint News]

  • Canadian bar hot and bothered over Maclean’s cover story slamming profession’s ethics [Macleans blog]

  • Five Democratic candidates (Clinton, Obama, Edwards, Biden, Richardson) auditioned at the trial lawyers’ convention earlier this month in Chicago [NYSun]

  • Donald Boudreaux’s theory as to why Prohibition ended when it did [Pittsburgh Trib-Rev via Murray @ NRO]

  • Speaker of Alaska house discusses recent strengthening of that state’s longstanding loser-pays law [new at Point of Law]